Sharing seeds of rare plants/GMOs

Ernie DeMarie via pbs
Thu, 13 Nov 2014 16:30:47 PST

Genetically modified organisms, including plants, are not inherently bad things, they are the products of technology, which itself has no moral value, good or bad, it is how we use it that makes it good or bad.  I think differently about Monsanto, the company that has done a lot of this work and patented it and then turn around and sued farmers who aquire "their" (patented) gene via accidental cross pollination with the neighbors Monsanto GMO crop.  Seems to me it should be Monsanto's responsibility to keep "their" genes out of other peoples fields, if they can't do that, oh well.  
Still there are folks who go crazy over GMOs, I actually was having a heated discussion about this with some teachers in my dept who linked them to all the other ills of the world, but as I said, they are not evil creations in and of themselves.  Of course any GMO should be thoroughly tested before it is used/released to ensure no harm is done to ecosystems or the environment, and with some of them such as bt corn there is the possibility it could make the organic pesticide Bacillus thuringensis (the actual BT bacteria, I tell my students it is caterpillar ebola) useless if the selection pressure of crops containing the bt toxin gene increases the frequency of naturally resistant strains of pest species via natural selection pressure.  There are strategies to mitigate that, such as the requirement that farmers plant non bt corn so the non resistant pests have a place to live and mix their genes with any resistant ones to prevent the emergence of  a resistant pest strain but t
 hat entails planting land with a crop the farmer knows will be eaten in order to preserve the usefulness of the bt corn nearby. 
One genetic modification I would love to see is one that would turn the Cape bulb flora into summer growing flora, we'd have such interesting gardens here in the northeast if that was the case.  Many summer growing S African bulbs are perfectly hardy here, and that would likely be the case with Cape geophytes if they didn't put their leaves up in winter.  
Ernie DeMarie
Z7 NY where the marigolds made it thru yesterday, but they are cut and ready for students to use in a lab tomorrow
-----Original Message-----
From: Tim Eck <>
To: 'Pacific Bulb Society' <>
Sent: Thu, Nov 13, 2014 8:34 am
Subject: Re: [pbs] Sharing seeds of rare plants

Correction - I meant backcross to BC3, not BCF3.

-----Original Message-----
From: pbs [] On Behalf Of Tim Eck
Sent: Thursday, November 13, 2014 6:51 AM
To: 'Pacific Bulb Society'
Subject: Re: [pbs] Sharing seeds of rare plants

In The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) we have seen our share of
reactionary fervor regarding 'purity' of plant genetics.  Our membership
doesn't include the most extreme because of our goals to breed the blight
resistance genes of the Chinese chestnut into the American.  The original
plan was to backcross to the BCF3 (15/16 American) and then intercross for
homozygosity of the blight resistance genes, leaving us with about 94%
American genetics.  
There are those who think this is a travesty and they go crazy when they
hear about the NY chapter's program to insert the wheat rust oxalic oxidase
gene into the American chestnut through transgenics.  (Cryphonectria
parasitica attacks the cambium by killing live cells with oxalic acid and
then consuming the dead tissue which actually makes it a saprophyte rather
than a parasite.  Breaking down the oxalic acid is a defense against this
attack.)  The interesting response has been that people are more horrified
by the transgenics which saves a 100% American chestnut genome than by the
hybridization which saves a 94% American genome (actually, it saves ~100% in
the population but 94% in the individual).
I have often made the same analogy to Hitler as Tony in the reaction of the
ignorant to this genetic manipulation.  I have also been amazed at the
reaction of organic gardeners to transgenics - they will spray Bt on their
corn but they won't plant corn with Bt already in it.


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